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Maryland baseball comes back to win thriller at No. 25 Iowa, 10-9

The Terps opened up the weekend series with a win.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland baseball entered Big Ten play knowing that it was in for a tough matchup against No. 25 Iowa. The two Big Ten forces were trading blows from start to finish.

After falling behind in the first five innings, junior shortstop Matt Shaw was the hero for the Terps in the sixth. Shaw walked up to the plate, facing a huge bases-loaded situation with Maryland trailing 6-3. Shaw knew he was the man for that spot, as he crushed a no-doubt grand slam. He immediately knew it was gone once it left his bat, tossing a stone-cold bat flip to celebrate the huge hit.

The home run by Shaw helped guide Maryland to a 10-9 win. Maryland’s shortstop was the standout player of the game, going 4-for-4 with six RBIs and two home runs.

In the bottom of the first inning, junior right-handed pitcher Jason Savacool had costly command issues, allowing Iowa baserunners to steal bases on balls in the dirt. His struggles loaded the bases for the dangerous designated hitter Keaton Anthony. Anthony pounced on a hanging curveball, sending it way over the left-center field fence for a grand slam.

The Iowa offense was ready to go right from the start as two batters later, left fielder Sam Petersen crushed a belt-high fastball to straightaway left field to give the Hawkeyes an early 5-0 lead.

Iowa’s flame-throwing right-handed pitcher Brody Brecht started by dealing against Maryland with a filthy fastball-slider combo. He struck out six of the eight batters he faced through the first two innings.

After a disastrous first inning, Savacool sent the Hawkeyes down in order to halt the bleeding and attempt to bring some momentum to the Maryland dugout.

The Terps were unable to grasp the momentum, though, as Brecht continued to shut down the Maryland offense in the third. He struck out two more batters for his seventh and eighth strikeouts of the game.

Maryland got its first hard-hit ball of the game in the fourth, courtesy of Shaw. He hit a screaming line drive right back at Brecht, which ricocheted off his ankle. Brecht shook it off and stayed in the game, however, and the injury had zero effect on him, as the Terps couldn’t generate any more offense in the inning.

In the fifth inning, Maryland began to find answers for Brecht. Sophomore left fielder Jacob Orr led off the inning with a single, and two batters later junior catcher Luke Shliger reached base via a hit-by-pitch to set up senior third baseman Nick Lorusso. Lorusso cashed in with an RBI single up the middle to get the Terps on the board while also extending his hitting streak to 24 games.

Shaw continued to have Brecht’s number this afternoon as he dumped in an RBI single of his own to right-center field cutting the Maryland deficit to three with a 5-2 score. Junior second baseman Kevin Keister then walked to load the bases for the Terps. The very next at-bat Brecht was charged with a balk which scored Maryland’s third run of the game.

The Hawkeyes had an immediate response to Maryland’s three-run spot, as third baseman Raider Tello pimped Savacool’s first pitch of the inning for a no-doubt solo home run, pushing the Iowa lead back to 6-3. Savacool escaped the fifth only allowing the single run.

The Hawkeyes relieved Brecht in the sixth inning for southpaw Jared Simpson. Brecht finished with a career-high 13 strikeouts.

Sophomore first baseman Eddie Hacopian singled up the middle to lead off the sixth. Then sophomore center fielder Elijah Lambros was hit by a pitch to the leg to give Maryland runners on second and third with one out for Shliger, who walked to load the bases.

Shaw did it yet again for the Terps, as he annihilated a fastball to left-center field for a grand slam to give Maryland its first lead of the game — Maryland’s sixth grand slam of the season.

Fifth year right-handed pitcher Kenny Lippmann relieved Savacool in the bottom of the sixth. Lippman sent Iowa down in order, which was highlighted by a spectacular back-handed play by Lorusso to end the inning.

In the seventh inning, junior lefty Tommy Kane entered the game for the Terps. Kane struggled his entire appearance as he loaded the bases with only one out. The Terps were able to get the second out, thanks to Hacopian quickly fielding a ground ball and firing a dart home to get the force out.

Kane then hit catcher Cade Moss to knot the game up at seven, and head coach Rob Vaughn yanked Kane for redshirt sophomore righty Nigel Belgrave. Belgrave only needed one pitch to force a routine flyout to center field to escape the inning.

After allowing Iowa to tie the game, the Maryland offense was not going to allow it to stay like that, as Lambros, Lorusso and Shaw smacked three solo home runs in the eighth to give Maryland a 10-7 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Lambros saved the Terps’ three-run lead, as he robbed what would’ve been a huge home run for Iowa. After, Anthony had another huge RBI double for Iowa, cutting the Maryland lead to two. The Hawkeyes had the tying run on second with one out. Tello then drove a ball to center field to make the score 10-9, but it wasn’t enough as Maryland hung on for the victory.

Three things to know

1. Brecht kept the Maryland offense quiet. Brecht was a force on the mound Friday, as he shut the Maryland offense down in the beginning of the game, recording a career-high 13 strikeouts. He displayed professional velocity, with his fastball measuring as fast as 104 miles per hour. His impressive performance will go down as a no decision, though, as Maryland took the lead after he was pulled from the game.

2. Shaw looked like a professional hitter. Shaw was on fire at the plate Friday. His day featured a huge grand slam in the sixth inning to give Maryland its first lead of the day. Shaw tacked on another home run in the eighth inning as well. His six-RBI performance was his season-high.

3. Home runs were key for Maryland. Home runs kept Maryland in this gritty Big Ten matchup. The Terps sent four balls out of the yard Friday, which accounted for seven of their 10 runs.